Tag Archive: spirituality


Asking For His Blessing

I am tired today. The last few days have been busy. In fact, the summer has been busy. It’s generously provided me with a limited time opportunity to accomplish a lot outside, and I’ve seized that chance. It’s made for long days, short nights, and sore muscles, which would be why I woke up this morning with a sore shoulder, a developing headache, an abundance of yawning, and no phone call from work telling me that I could just stay home in bed.

I don’t know about you, but these are perfect conditions for a good case of the grumps, the cranks, the snarls, and good, old-fashioned crankiness. I am tired. I hurt some. I have things beeping and ringing and otherwise annoying me, and I have to be nice? Or at least put up a decent pretense? Bleah.

Fortunately, I do have options. I don’t have to assume the guise of Grouchy Malouchy, and fortunately I remembered that options are available this morning when my alarm went off. It’s always best to nip the grumps early. I can ask for God’s blessing.

It’s pretty simple. In some ways, it’s a lot like asking a blessing before a meal. We do that as an expression of gratitude, as an acknowledgement of of God’s provision, and as an opportunity to make requests, such as nourishment. Why not carry that practice into other areas of our lives? I figure that a God who does “immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine” probably does more than simply give us food. I think that a God who can turn water into wine, feed a guy using ravens, keep a supply of flour and oil refreshed until the rain comes, feed five thousand from a seed of 2 fish and five loaves, make bread and quail appear to sustain the desert dwelling Israelites, and an old man into a great nation is probably a pretty good provider. He sounds like He’s good at meeting needs.

He sounds like He excels at taking inadequacy and making it into an abundance, so that’s what I asked Him for this morning when I woke up and realized how tired I felt.

God, I’m really tired. You know I’ve been busy, and that it was hard to get to sleep last night. Thank you for the sleep that I did get. I know every bit helps, but I also know that it’s not enough, and I have a long day ahead. Please bless the rest I did get. Take it and make it somehow enough to get me through my day safely. Help me to have a good day. Thanks.

This isn’t the first time I’ve asked for His blessing on getting me through a day. He always gets me through, though I never know what to expect. Sometimes I just feel better (and can’t give caffeine all the credit), sometimes I have an unexpectedly easy day (which seems to be today so far), sometimes I get to experience the sufficiency of grace through a hard day, and so on. Easy or hard, He always seems to work it out so that the day has value. I don’t usually get stuck gritting my teeth while trying endure on my own yet another horrible, stressful day. If nothing else, simply having an open door to ask for His help relieves some of my stress. Remembering that I have a choice helps alleviate some stress, too.

We’ll see how today goes. Personally, I’m expecting good things!

—–

Yep, it was a good day, and now it’s bedtime. Have a great one!

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Links for This Week

This last week, I’ve been pretty busy working outside, playing with my sisters, and painting hope onto my wall. In other words, I’ve slacked off and not written a post, but it’s all good. I’ve been meaning to put up a post recommending another blog. In the last week, Kari provided some great posts, and I definitely think her work is worth reading.

For a little background, I found her blog on Facebook. Half my lifetime ago, Kari and I went to the same rural church. Since it was small and relationally oriented, everybody knew everybody. We were a community. The church attended services together, ate together, worshiped together, worked together, had retreats and Family Camps and weddings and all kinds of stuff. It was really a great church in a lot of ways, so for me, it was fun, 10 or 15 years later, to see that Kari had been keeping a blog. It was even better to read it and see that she definitely still loves God. I always love to see that! She writes about faith a lot, and when she’s not writing about that, she often writes about some practical ways to keep a house and live more frugally.

This week, she wrote a series of posts dealing with the dreadful “d” of disappointment. The first is called “When the road is long.” Kari shares some thoughts about disappointments which last a long time. The second is called “When no one understands.” It’s an interesting thought. I hadn’t considered how disappointing it can be to not be understood. The third is “When you must be silent,” and she talks about the difficulty imposed by silence. That’s one I do understand. Not being able to talk about things can just swell your throat shut so that the time comes that it would be okay to talk, you can’t. Come to think of it, that right there is pretty disappointing.

One thing I would mention about disappointment is that it can be quite the thief. It will steal hope from your heart if you let it.

Following those three posts identifying some types of disappointment, Kari wrote a great post about expectations titled “What to expect when you’re expecting…” I love this one. There’s truth in it, truth that can help point a person to God and make them aware of their need for Him. Look at this!

So what should we expect?

Opposition. Persecution. Obstacles. Suffering. Trials. Conflict. Hardship. Storms. But most of all …

Except to see and encounter Him in the midst of it all.

He is found in the midst of the storm, the suffering, the obstacle. When we run from those things,  we run from Him. He is there.

I expect to face these things, and I expect to see His face there.

That’s what I can expect.

I love this, not because the idea of being used as a punching bag sounds like fun, but because God doesn’t leave me. Because God is there. Because God works things out for good. Because even death can’t beat Him. Life is not a soft, fluffy, sweet teddy bear on which we can land without the least concern. Bad things, hard things, painful things – they all happen, and they happen without regard for my wickedness or righteousness, my foolishness or my wisdom, my poverty or my wealth, or any number of other things. We can’t control much of what happens. In the middle of it all, in the good and the bad, God is there. I sleep better at night because of that.

Have a good one!

Blessings Found in Brokenness

In my last post, I talked about my revelation that God is truly good. That sort of interrupted all my yakking about brokenness, but I think it was a timely interruption. When God asked me what I would if I stayed broken, I’d already realized that He was good. I had a confidence and trust in His willingness to care for me that absolutely helped me to consider His question with less defensiveness than I had before. Please note that I did not say “no defensiveness.” I was hardly free from it. However, I was much more willing to listen. God is not out to get us. He is good. Brokenness: my lack of perfection, my deformed limp, my pain, my weakness – it might not be the end of the world.

As a matter of fact, it isn’t. In some ways, it’s been good for me. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that God has worked good out of it for me. I could quote some Scripture (Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” with its claim that God’s “grace is sufficient” certainly leaps to mind!) to slap a coat of religious paint on, but I’d rather just tell you about what I know and am learning about living with a limp.

The funny thing is that there is some freedom in limping. I didn’t expect that. For instance, I don’t struggle as much with pride. Neither do I struggle as much with being afraid of finding pride within me. Both of those battles consumed a lot of effort. I’m a gifted individual, and the pitfall of pride correlates well with giftedness. So does the (sometimes false) accusation of pride. I used to get so tied up trying to figure out where my real problem was so I could fix it. Thing is that a lot of my pride was tied up in my “perfection” compared to other people. Having to accept my own brokenness and let God’s grace be sufficient slapped that one down hard. It’s great!

I learned more sympathy. This would be a no brainer, right? It seems like learning to accept, instead of rejecting and fleeing and shunning, my own pain would help me to be more kind to others experiencing hurt and disappointment.

The world became less black and white. One of my friends gave me an interesting tidbit about abuse survivors. After making it through a world of overly simplified values (like, kill or be killed; fight or flight; fight/flight or be thrashed; bad people or good people; it’s safe or it’s not – I’m sure you get the idea), former victims don’t know that the world is full of greys and even color. It’s not all an either/or proposition. I don’t know if that’s true of every abuse survivor, but it’s certainly something I’ve seen in myself and in my family. Where it can cause lots of trouble is in relationships. It’s a rare person who is an angel or a demon. Most folk are quite the mix, and I didn’t assess that well, not even in myself. It made me unnecessarily rigid, and I lacked grace. Enter ‘“My grace is sufficient,” right?

I am more able to live with uncertainty, which goes hand in hand with the world not seeming as black and white. The unknown is not as terrifying. Nor do I assume it to be populated only with bad things. Good things must be there, too. I have more hope.

One reason for that is I learned that brokenness is not necessarily pathetic or despicable. It’s not a disqualifier. God doesn’t hate me because I’m broken. People don’t always deal well with it, but God doesn’t have that problem. Although there frequently is pain involved, the pain is not a disqualifier, either. God still loves me even when I hurt. Brokenness is not leprosy or cause for quarantine. It is not contagious. Ain’t nobody perfect, folks. We all be broken.

I am more able to learn. Rigidity doesn’t lend itself well to the acquisition of new information, experiences, or opinions. Even when a person tries hard, rigidity greatly complicates the learning process.

I always have someplace to go. Brokenness cannot keep me from God and His provision, instruction, and comfort.

I’ve learned more patience. Please note that I do not claim to be a patient person! But I’ve had to learn some, because limping precludes getting anywhere fast.

It’s helped me to forgive. Oh, my, that’s a good one! That’s freedom! Once pride lost its grip, and I accepted that I, too, am broken, I realized that my dad and I have that in common. He’s broken, too. He took things to extremes that I have not, but that’s no reason for me to feel like I’m somehow better than him. I am not without sin. I am not perfect. Accepting that at an emotional level definitely helped free from my burning desire to start throwing rocks. Of course I was angry with my dad. I should have been. He did not treat me well, but living out my life hating his guts and everything about him was a horrible way to live, because, truthfully, I have more in common with him than brokenness. For example, writing is not my mom’s thing. It was most definitely my dad’s.

Happy Independence Day!

The Goodness of God

I’m afraid that I was far too distracted this week by things like fresh, Oregon strawberries to give much thought to another post on brokenness. I’ve got one still brewing, but it’s not quite there. In the meantime, I poked around my blog and couldn’t find something that I most certainly have meant to put up, even though I’m recycling an old post from the Well. It’s the post I wrote when my belief in God’s goodness coalesced out of the faint hope and intellectual void where the Spirit of God hovered over the deep of my soul. I had been struggling, trying to reconcile the idea that God could be good with the reality of pain, limitations, and the crappy things people sometimes do to each other, and I had a completely unexpected revelation that changed my heart. Man, through nothing I did, the light came on for me, and here’s my attempt to express it:

August, 2005

I woke up this morning thinking about one place, one time. Ever said that? I have, especially at work when I have too many people wanting me to be doing too many things in several different locations all at once. It’s really frustrating when all the needs are valid and more or less immediate. Makes it really hard to prioritize. “I can’t do that right now. I can only be in one place at one time.”

What I realized this morning is that my limited ability to be present applies not only to my body, but also to my soul – my heart, my mind or intellect, and my will. I am pretty small, and I can only live in one place at one time. I can only live for one thing at one time. I’m trying to think how to explain this. I woke up knowing something, but I’m not sure yet just what it is I know.

See, for several years, my life’s purpose has been to love the Lord my God with all my heart and soul, mind and strength. Jesus said that was the greatest commandment, and I figured if He said it was that important, that was what I wanted to do. I had no idea how that would work. There are so many good and important things in life, but God is telling me He wants my all. He says it over and over throughout the Bible. He must be first. I’ve had moments where I’ve resented that (and I’ll probably have more moments like that, too). I mean, if it were another human being who wanted that kind of attention, I would think they were being totally selfish. How could God not also be selfish in saying He wants it all?

I think what I realized is how kind He is in demanding everything. I am small, my resources are limited, and I am only able to live in one place for one thing at a time. Life, with all its problems, pains, people, loves, and answers – it is much too big for me. Life is at this point entropic (entropy, according to Merriam-Webster online, is “2 a : the degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity b : a process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorder). It takes who I am and all I have to offer, my heart and soul, mind and strength, and reduces me to a “state of inert uniformity,” to a dead nothingness. The entropy effect within me is hugely magnified every time I choose to contribute my energy, to seek my validation in something besides God, to worship an idol. There is no living to be had from this life. It takes more than I have.

God’s not being selfish in demanding everything. He’s offering to die so that I might live. He knows that left to my own, life will kill me long before I die, especially when I give myself to that which resembles life. By demanding everything I have, He’s ensuring that my life is preserved for release to abundant living and not to entropic living. If you want to save your life, you have to lose it. God is love. No greater love exists than a man lays down his life, and when He tells me, “I want it all, Rebekah. If you want to live, I have to take it all,” that is love speaking. Hm…

As I sat down to write this, I had Nichole Nordeman’s “This Mystery” album playing. The first song up was “Please Come,” and the chorus had this to say. “There is room enough for all of us / Please come / And the arms are open wide enough / Please come / And our parts are never greater than the sum / This is the heart of the One / Who stands before an open door / And bids us, ‘Come'”

God’s not stuck in one place at a time like me. He’s got room enough, His arms are wide enough, His heart is big enough, and He says to please come. I think I’ll take Him up on it.

Brokenness and Fear

In my last post, I talked about Isaiah 53’s Suffering Servant and ended the post by asking why I would be inclined to feel offended over his situation. One explanation could be found in the phrase I quoted near the end, that “it pleased the Lord to bruise him.” There’s an element of sacrifice in this passage, where the innocent was taken by God and offered as a sacrifice for the sins of the guilty. That can be an uncomfortable concept, because 1) I am one of the guilty folk (definitely not perfect, you know), and 2) it can lead one to question the goodness and character of the Almighty.

However, I don’t think my reaction fit into either of those little boxes. It has, at points, but not regarding brokenness. Instead, I found myself identifying with the Suffering Servant and his story. My life had been hard, and I was relatively innocent. After all, children do not deserve abuse. With the way my dad wove religious themes into our situation, from there it was no great leap to feel that my innocence was the sacrifice offered by my father to expiate or relieve some of his own guilt. My indignation toward the way God (mis)treated the Servant was, I think, springing from fear that God would have condemned me to a similar role. If God would be “pleased. . .to bruise” His faithful servant, why not me as well? Would I be stuck broken and limping for the rest of my life to help atone for the sins of others? I didn’t want to contemplate that possibility. I was too afraid that it might be true.

Maybe God was that mean. Maybe I was that worthless. Maybe my dad was more important. Maybe… maybe…. maybe… maybe. What if He was? What if I was? What if he was? What if… what if… what if? What if all the most horrible and scariest things were true?

What if they were? It was the question I couldn’t face, and because I was wondering and fearing without facing, I had some nasty ideas about God and Who He is and what He does hiding. Part of me believed that God was mean, that He was untrustworthy, that He didn’t like me, that He was going to make all my life hard, that His “favor” was anything but, and other things. I had all this floating around inside of me, a spot of darkness where I hated and feared God, and I couldn’t touch it because I couldn’t handle my pain. I couldn’t – or perhaps wouldn’t – see past my pain and the injustices under which I was living, and all I wanted was out. I didn’t want the pain. I didn’t want the questions. I was afraid of the dark, and I prayed for healing and deliverance.

Whether I wanted the questions or not, I did have them. I cannot help but think they emanated from me to poison the air and beat on God with their anxious uncertainties. Anxiety is like that. It hides, but not well. And, I believe, God responded to my prayers, but not how I expected or wanted. He asked me those questions. “What if you don’t get better? What if healing for you doesn’t look like the removal of your brokenness? What if it’s not just gone, and you spend the rest of your life limping?” He answered my questions with some of His own. What that did for me was start drawing my invisible questions out to be seen. God’s questions, rather than being a condemnation of my misdeeds, started shining a little light into my darkness, and that proved to be a very good thing for me. After all, fear doesn’t do well with light.

Until next time!